Celtics-Warriors NBA Finals Game 1 picks, betting odds: Golden State should capitalize on advantages in opener

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With the 2021-22 NBA regular season now in the books, the basketball betting market is hotter than ever. CBS Sports will be providing daily picks for the duration of the postseason. Sam Quinn will make at least one pick for every game between now and the NBA Finals. All lines courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.

Golden State Warriors vs. Boston Celtics

Featured Game | Golden State Warriors vs. Boston Celtics

The Golden State Warriors are 21-2 in Game 1s under Steve Kerr. The Boston Celtics have lost their past two postseason Game 1s, and were it not for a miraculous Jayson Tatum layup at the buzzer, would have lost Game 1 to the Brooklyn Nets in the first round as well. The Warriors had three extra days of rest before this game, which will be played in their arena. They have a healthier roster, and they have a unique playing style that heavily favors them early in series as their opponents adjust to it. Boston will make this a competitive series and could easily win it. The Warriors should be heavily favored in this game, specifically, and the line doesn’t reflect the advantage they should have. The pick: Warriors -3.5

In that same vein, the Warriors have averaged over 117 points per game in Game 1s this postseason. As good as Boston’s defense is, it allowed 118 points to Miami in Game 1. The Celtics eventually figured out that drop-coverage was their best bet against the Heat. They’ll eventually figure out a workable strategy against the Warriors. But that’s going to take a game or two of trial and error. Throw in how limited Robert Williams III looked in Game 7 and the possibility that Gary Payton II won’t play and suddenly you have two rotations geared more toward offense than defense. The pick: Over 212.5

I am just generally planning to short Robert Williams III until he proves to me that he’s healthy. Injuries aside, this is probably a series in which it makes sense for the Celtics to play smaller. They’ve been successful in lineups with Al Horford as the only big man, and right now, Grant Williams is probably in line for more minutes than Robert just due to durability. If the health picture changes? We’ll adjust in Game 2. The pick: Robert Williams III under 6.5 rebounds

A strategic guess: Golden State is going to start with Draymond Green defending Horford, but he’ll frequently switch onto Boston’s best ball-handlers, giving Horford mismatches against smaller defenders. We’ve seen Horford play more aggressively as a driver and scorer at points in this series, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do so in this matchup as well. That will be especially true if Boston does play small and he has more space to work with. In that sense, I expect him not to take too many 3s in a Game 1, so let’s take the under there. The pick: Al Horford under 1.5 made 3-pointers

I think this might be a tougher series for Jordan Poole as it progresses because of how aggressively Boston switch-hunts, but I think he’ll have a golden opportunity to rack up points in the earlier games because I’d expect the Celtics to run a deeper rotation that includes Payton Pritchard, giving him more of a weak spot to exploit in the minutes Stephen Curry sits. I’d guess Poole’s role diminishes slightly as we get deeper into the Finals, but he should start Game 1 off with a bang. The pick: Poole over 15.5 points

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